Michael Thomas, WR Ohio State 2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Michael Thomas (3) prior to the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas has become a favorite target of both J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones this season. He may not put up video game numbers like some of the receivers in the Big 12, but he’s still one of the top draft-eligible wideouts in college football. Let’s take a look at what makes him a potential first-day pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Player Information

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Class: Redshirt Junior

2015 Stats: 49 receptions and 4 drops on 75 targets, 709 yards (239 after the catch), 14.5 average, 8 touchdowns, forced 9 missed tackles


Height: 6’2

Weight: 210

Estimated 40 time: mid 4.5s

Games Watched

2015: Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia Tech

2014: Virginia Tech

These games featured Thomas going up against the top CB talent on the Ohio State schedule. They included skilled prospects such as Kendall Fuller (Virginia Tech), Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray (Minnesota), Jourdan Lewis (Michigan) and Sean Davis and William Likely (Maryland).

Scheme Fit

A system in which he lines up as the X and/or Z receiver while utilizing his size and strength to win matchups outside the numbers.

Player Summary

2012 four-star recruit, and nephew of former NFL WR Keyshawn Johnson, has started 26 of 38 career games played for the Buckeyes. Redshirted in 2013 after seeing limited action as a freshman in 2012. Primarily the X receiver in Ohio State’s spread offense. Solid height and weight with an athletic frame and good athletic ability. Displays a very good combination of quickness, balance and body control.


Shows a solid explosion when releasing off the line of scrimmage versus off coverage, while demonstrating the play strength to fight through a jam and stay on his route against press coverage. Utilizes quickness and balance to create separation at top of routes, giving his QB a clear window to throw the ball.

Here’s a look at how Thomas is able to create separation on an inside slant route against press coverage.

He tracks the ball well in the air and displays very good body control to adjust to passes thrown high and to the side. Body control, as well as play strength, allows him to catch a high percentage of contested passes as he boxes out defenders on jump balls. Arm length creates an above average catch radius while strong hands snatch the ball out of the air. Possesses the awareness and concentration skills needed to get a foot inbounds near the sideline and hold on to the ball through contact.

Areas for Improvement

Thomas is not asked to run a large variety of routes, as he primarily run slants, outs and fades. Scheme is partly to blame for this; however he is hesitant and displays marginal competitive toughness when running shallow crossing routes over the middle. He gets noticeably frustrated with poor throws or when the ball doesn’t come his way for an extended period of time. Only adequate mental processing skills when the play breaks down, as he stops his route rather than adjusting and coming back to the ball. As a result of marginal instincts, he’s slow to react and look for the ball quickly on blitzes, which leads to drops. Despite very good body control, he struggles to scoop balls thrown low. After the catch, does not get upfield quickly. He is not able to maximize yards after the catch because his first move tends to be lateral rather than vertical, and his ability to break tackles is only adequate.

Let’s look at an example of this lateral first step. After the first defender overruns the play, Thomas has a clear path to get the first down at the 35-yard line. Rather than get upfield, he hesitates and is contacted at the 32; just one yard after he shed the first defender.


Overall, Michael Thomas is a starting WR in the NFL who can utilize his size and strength to make plays outside the numbers. I see him as an above average number two WR at the next level and expect him to be drafted in the late-first or early-second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.